Tag Archives: Goliath

Amazon Prime’s Goliath: Season One

Amazon Prime has sneakily started to put out some incredible original shows in the last few years, it’s really worth signing up (way cheaper than cluttered ass Netflix) to see the exciting directions they’re headed in. One such show is Goliath, which on the surface appears to be a slick, spotlight showcase for Billy Bob Thornton in another one of his now platinum alpha male loudmouth roles. It is that, to an extent, but it’s also a detailed, densely written mosaic of Los Angeles life viewed through a prism of classism, corruption, dishevelled family values and high powered corporate war games.

Thornton is Billy McBride, a disgraced lawyer who helped found the largest and most powerful mega-firm in LA only to be barred from it years later and left in exile. He mopes around in a cheap Santa Monica hotel, wanders the beach at night with bottle in hand and gives a local stray dog some love. This is until maybe the biggest lawsuit of his career yanks him out of bleary eyed entropy and pits him against not only his old firm but the largest high tech weapons manufacturing giant in the country. The show is aptly titled and works beautifully as an underdog story. Billy is low rent, works out of motel rooms and storage units, hires whoever will tolerate him and often prepares speeches and depositions over a high ball at the local dive. The firm is clean cut, ruthless, well researched and not afraid to get extremely dirty in protecting their powerful, scary client. Atop the skyscraper’s penthouse sits co founder Donald Cooperman, a bitter old Machiavellian lunatic played by William Hurt. Hurt embodies him like Harvey Dent crossed with a Bond villain, an eccentric asshole who coldly shunts his lawyers and clerks around the firm’s checker board and communicates with a paratrooper clicky thing, making every move he can to stonewall Billy’s case.

This is Thornton’s best role in years and he does get to do that patented snarky thing that every Bad Santa fan always cheers for, but McBride is also a well rounded, very human character rooted in backstory, fuelled by emotion and dynamic in his interaction and well guarded compassion for the people in his life. His law clerk is an escort girl (Tanya Raymonde), his ex wife (Maria Bello) works for Cooperman’s firm and his daughter (Diana Hopper) resents his wayward lifestyle but loves him unconditionally. There’s an eventual loyalty and tribal feel to his ragtag entourage that I picked up on and enjoyed a lot. They have casted this thing to the nines and picked unique actors for parts you wouldn’t have pictured them in too. Molly Parker is a right cunt as the firm’s lead shark, scene stealing like a pro and positively dripping acid in court. Olivia Thirlby nails the rookie just coming out of her shell, Nina Arianada is a sharp, foul mouthed go getter as a lawyer representing the family suing this firm, and watch for appearances from Jason Ritter, Brent Briscoe, Sarah Wynter, Dwight Yoakam, Damon Gupton and Harold Perrineau as a shrewd, no nonsense judge.

This is of course only a review of the first season, but on its own I can’t really think of anything wrong with it. It’s smartly written, emotionally relatable, super exciting and looks beautiful visually. It’s a story of redemption, one of the little guy standing up to essentially the biggest bully you can dream up and even has elements of family drama as well as thoughtful romance. Thornton and Hurt lead the herd like the pros they are, but everyone in their wake gives equally as powerful work. The locations feel authentic, lived in and detailed, considering they shot in the actual Santa Monica motel and bar that we see onscreen. This tale reaches seemingly mythic heights at times but never falters in catching the little moments, the gaps in between important plot establishing scenes that show characters simply interacting casually or chatting about their favourite movies. You don’t see that kind of care put in much, but damn it goes a long way. I’m somewhat apprehensive about season two after a reported writer switch up that garnered some nasty reviews across the board, but we’ll see. As it stands, season one is its own enclosed story, works spectacularly and I’m happy we got it. Highly recommended.

-Nate Hill

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Top Ten William Hurt Performances

William Hurt has been a fierce cinematic presence for decades, and now he’s slowly embarked on making his mark in television.  He was the epitome of a sex symbol in the 1980’s, a uniquely handsome movie star who brought an abstract and fresh approach to each role he consumed.  Sex symbol status aside, Hurt was nominated three years in a row for Best Actor, winning his first nomination for KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN.  He has been able to navigate the waters of blockbuster films like CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, independent dramas like THE KING, and television.  His first prominent turn on the long form medium was in FX’s DAMAGES where he played a former lover and father to Glenn Close’s son.  He then starred as Captain Ahab in MOBY DICK and most recently he gave an eccentric turn as Donald Cooperman who is the big bad in Amazon Studio’s GOLIATH that recently yielded Billy Bob Thornton Best Actor at this past year’s Golden Globes.  Hurt has been around since the late 1970’s and has always delivered fine performances even when the film itself paled in comparison to his performance.

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST 1988 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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This film marks the third collaboration between Hurt and writer/director Lawrence Kasdan as well as the two being reunited with Kathleen Turner.  Here, Hurt gives a very sensible turn as a man in constant mourning over the death of his son; the grief is crippling.  He navigates the waters of the film with a reserved sense of humor, yet the audience becomes absorbed by the sadness in his eyes.  As the film progresses, and his life is renewed with the love and affection from Geena Davis, his reserved and heavily introverted Macon Leary begins to breath life and flourishes.

ALTERED STATES 1980 Dir. Ken Russell

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Hurt made a huge splash with his first film role.  This is a film that pushes every boundary possible while exploring the themes of obsession and the human psyche.  He is absolutely perfect as the young and sexy scientist looking to push our reality into new realms.  Being his first film, this allowed Hurt to tackle thematic subject matter that even to this day would be rendered taboo.

THE BIG BRASS RING – 1999 Dir. George Hickenlooper 

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This film is a cinematic anomaly.  Based upon an unproduced screenplay by Orson Welles, the film follows Hurt as a gubernatorial candidate who has a very dark and very secretive past that’s exposure hinges upon his former mentor.  Hurt has always played these types of characters well.  Men who try their best to be noble, but are completely shrouded by their past transgressions.  This is a film that is difficult to track down, but well worth it.

THE BIG CHILL 1983 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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There are few actor/director relationships that were so fertile and rewarding as William Hurt and Lawrence Kasdan.  In this film, Hurt plays Nick, the drug addicted intellectual who was psychologically changed by his tour in Vietnam.  While each character in the film was written and performed with such care, Nick was the one role that all the male actors lobbied Kasdan for, but he wrote the part specifically for Hurt.

BODY HEAT – 1981 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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Kasdan’s first feature was an unofficial remake of DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and it was also the genre setter for the steamy and sweaty erotic thrillers of the 1980’s.  There are not many films sexier and more dangerous than BODY HEAT.  With John Barry’s silky score, to the constant sweaty sex between Hurt and Kathleen Turner – this film will always be unmatched.  The arc of Hurt’s character is fantastic.  He plays the role perfectly.  He’s the sleazy lawyer turned obsessive lover turned the ultimate dupe.

BROADCAST NEWS – 1987 Dir. James L. Brooks

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Nominated for Best Actor by the Academy, Hurt portrayed the bubble headed blonde anchorman who had a complete and utter lack of understanding of what he was reading into the television, but that didn’t matter because he looked great doing it.  He plays this character with as much gusto as he does with moral ambiguity.  He’s not a bad guy by any means, but he’s not nearly as noble as he is propped up to be.

GOLIATH – 2016 Amazon Studios

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This is a television show that didn’t make any wakes when it was dropped in October of 2016.  Hurt plays the big bad of the show, he’s the archetypal noir villain who sits in an office that is shaded by his own shadows and web of secrets.  The right side of his body is cover in horrid burn scars, from the top of his head to his hand; that only adds to his mysterious intrigue.  He speaks in riddles and poetic fables in a cadence that only he is capable of.  Billy Bob Thornton won the Golden Globe for his performance in the film, but it’s an injustice that Hurt’s performance seems to have been left by the wayside.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE – 2005 Dir. David Cronenberg 

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In this film, Hurt gives one of the best performances of all time.  His total screentime is less than fifteen minutes, and he strategically brought in to close the third act of the film.  He is absolutely menacing in this film, from Cronenberg’s use of eye light on him to his rustbelt accent – Hurt owns the entire picture that was already great before he shows up.  This film also highlighted Hurt’s cinematic return.  He won Best Supporting Actor from the New York and Los Angelos film critics association, and he was nominated by the Academy for his role, only to lose out to George Clooney.

I LOVE YOU TO DEATH – 1990 Dir. Lawrence Kasdan

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This marks the last collaboration between Hurt and Kasdan.  In this film, Hurt takes on a completely zany and hysterical role as a drunkard pool player who gets roped into killing a man for a couple hundred dollars.  His role is very small, but his long hair, John Lennon esque sunglasses, and obsession over Reggie Jackson marks this an incredibly unforgetable performance.

KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN – 1985 Dir. Hector Babenco

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Fresh off his two collaborations with Lawrence Kasdan, Hurt risked his movie stardom gigantically by taking on a role in a small film where he played an imprisoned, flamboyantly gay sex offender in a South American prison.  He strips himself of every single masculine quality and becomes this very feminine and fragile character who copes with his horrible life by retelling the love story from a Nazi propaganda film to his freedom fight cellmate, Raul Juila.  Hurt won Best Actor from the Academy for his fearless performance, further lamenting this as one of the best performances in cinema history.

 

 

 

Amazon Studio’s GOLIATH

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Amazon Studios quietly released a new series in October called GOLIATH from creators David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro.  It stars Billy Bob Thornton in his Golden Globe winning turn as Billy McBride.  Thronton is his seminal drunk, lovable loser role but with a twist; he’s a brilliant (defrocked) lawyer.  Thornton reluctantly gets lured into a case against a weapons contractor that is represented by a gigantic law firm that he helped created and no longer is a part of.

The casting of the series is wonderfully rounded out by Maria Bello who is Thornton’s ex-wife, Molly Parker as a cut throat lawyer working for Thornton’s former film, Harold Perrineau as the judge overseeing the case, Dwight Yoakam as the CEO of the weapons contractor Borns Tech, and William Hurt in a beautiful showboat of a performance as Donald Cooperman, Thornton’s former partner.

This show has a very complex structure.  It is equal parts CALIFORNICATION with Thornton in an apathetic daze, where he spends his days drinking and co-parenting his daughter with Bello – yet it is steeped heavily in dark LA noir.  Just when you forget about how transgressive and dangerous the show is while watching Thornton bumble through a scene with his trademark zeal – we get quickly reminded of the dangers of the show by a cut to William Hurt who is always seated in his dark office, face half covered in burn scars, listening as his gaggle of lawyers discuss their best course of action against Thornton, as he answers their questions with a paratrooper signalling clicker.

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The affability of Thornton is starkly contrasted by the overbearing menace of Hurt.  He’s the big bad of series, and his danger and power is very much akin to a Blofeld esque villain of importance and stature.  Hurt’s brilliant performance is a reminder that he hasn’t faded as an actor, but that he is constantly able to turn out remarkable work decade after decade, never allowing himself to disappear as time carries on.

It hasn’t been announced if there will be a second season of GOLIATH, whispers are that the show will not continue; which comes as bittersweet news.  The series wrapped itself up brilliantly, without the finale hinging upon a second season.  Much like HBO’s LUCK or AMC’s LOW WINTER SUN, the series contains and closes its taut narrative within a singular season, yet the characters are so rich and developed with complexity and care that it truly would be a shame to let them go so quickly.  Whatever the fate of GOLIATH may be, it stands tall and even superior to most of Netflix and HBO’s original programming.

GOLIATH is available to stream on Amazon Prime.